Recent studies on career choices of graduate students reveal a significant attrition from biomedical research careers at rates that disproportionally affect women and underrepresented individuals.
Black women receive fewer engineering degrees than almost any other group, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. Fewer than 5% of engineers are women of color; more attention and support could help to increase diversity in engineering. Only 4 out of the 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Bioengineering related fields.
If the proportion of underrepresented students attaining PhDs in science were the same as those attaining bachelor’s degrees in the sciences, the number of Hispanic/Latino science doctorates would need to double, and the number of Black/African American science doctorates would need to triple.
African Americans received only 4.2% of doctoral degrees in Biomedical Engineering. (2018)
Source: American Society for Engineering Education
Workforce Gender and Ethnicity Gap in Biomedical Engineering
Challenge: More study of the science of workforce diversity, and a national strategy to sustain workforce diversity in academia and beyond.
Disparities continue to persist after degree completion.
The National Science Foundation found that only 4 percent of post-doctoral scholars in STEM fields were from underrepresented groups, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that only 5 percent of 2010 NIH Principal Investigators on research project grants (RPGs) are underrepresented minorities.
For the women and underrepresented minorities that persist in engineering, it is estimated that 40% leave the field and never enter the profession. Women often cite gender-stereotyped environments for their decision to leave.
In 2018, women represented fewer than 12% of tenured or tenure-track faculty in Full Professor of Engineering roles.
Source: The American Society for Engineering Education
Pay Gap in Biomedical Engineering
Challenge: Data collection on wages for underrepresented minorities in biomedical engineering
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the gender wage gap varies by engineering discipline, with the smallest gap among biomedical engineers. Meaning, the gender wage gap is nearly closed for biomedical engineers.
However, without data on wages for underrepresented minorities in biomedical engineering, it is hard to know if the progress gained for women holds true for URMs.
The gender wage gap is nearly closed for women in biomedical engineering. (2016)
Source: 2016 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.